Women with polycystic ovary syndrome may have higher suicide risk, study says | Polycystic ovary syndrome | The Guardian

Women diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may face a higher risk of attempting suicide, according to a recent study conducted in Taiwan. PCOS is a common health condition that affects approximately one in 10 women in the UK, although many cases go undiagnosed. The condition is characterized by symptoms such as irregular periods, acne, obesity, and cysts in the ovaries, and it is also recognized as a leading cause of infertility by the World Health Organization.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, analyzed nationwide data from 8,960 women and girls aged 12 to 64 who were diagnosed with PCOS between 1997 and 2012. The researchers found that those with PCOS had an 8.47-fold higher risk of suicide attempts compared to women without PCOS but with similar characteristics. The risk was particularly elevated among adolescents and adults under 40.

The authors of the study suggest that concerns related to PCOS, such as potential infertility and body image issues, could contribute to the increased risk of suicide attempts. Body image concerns, including perceived obesity and acne, have been associated with suicide risk during adolescence, and these problems are common among adolescents with PCOS. Additionally, young adults with PCOS may face additional challenges such as unemployment, financial difficulties, and relationship problems.

While this study adds to the growing body of evidence linking PCOS and mental health issues, it is important to note that the research has limitations. It cannot establish a cause-and-effect relationship, and it may not have accounted for all possible factors that could influence the results. However, other studies have also reported similar findings, highlighting the need for further research in this underexplored area.

Dr. Sophie Williams of the University of Derby, who was not involved in the study, emphasizes the importance of seeking help for women with PCOS who are experiencing difficulties. Depression and anxiety are commonly associated with PCOS, and it is crucial for individuals to know that support is available. In the UK, the NHS provides resources and assistance for those in need, and organizations like Samaritans offer helplines and online support for individuals experiencing emotional distress.

While the study sheds light on the mental health challenges faced by women with PCOS, it is essential to approach the topic with empathy and understanding. PCOS is a complex condition that affects individuals differently, and each person’s experience is unique. By raising awareness and conducting further research, we can work towards better support and care for those living with PCOS.

For more information on PCOS and its impact on mental health, you can refer to the article “Self-Harm and Suicidal Ideation Among Women with PCOS” by Dr. Sophie Williams. This article explores the connection between PCOS and mental health, providing valuable insights into the challenges faced by individuals with the condition.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, it is important to seek help. In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123, or via email at jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers support through calls, texts, and online chat. You can reach them at 988 or visit their website at 988lifeline.org or crisistextline.org. In Australia, Lifeline provides crisis support at 13 11 14. For international helplines, you can visit befrienders.org.